Food For Thought: Think Spring

Now’s the time to buy into the latest eat-local trend to guarantee your fair share of all those August tomatoes

Philly’s top chefs and their seasonally inspired menus planted the seeds for the recent trend toward buying and eating local. New farmers’ markets are sprouting up all over, and grocery stores offer local produce. But serious locavores are signing up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Here’s the dirt: For a fixed price, paid in advance, a local farmer gives you a share of whatever’s ripe each week of the growing season — seasonal fruits and veggies bred for taste, not shelf life, that you pick up at the farm or at sites throughout the region. What you give the farmer is the security of payment before the growing season begins. Here’s our list of the area’s leading CSAs. Sign up soon for those tomatoes in August; shares go fast.

Farm: Anchor Run Farm
Pick up at: At farm, 2578 Second Street Pike, Wrightstown
Sign up at:
Share Length: 25 weeks
Cost: Wrightstown Twp. resident $755 ($30.20/week); non-resident $795 ($31.80/week)
Sample Peak-Season Share: 5 lbs. cucumbers, 1 lb. summer squash, 2 lbs. carrots, 2 celery stalks, 3 eggplants, 2 peppers, 1 head lettuce, 1 lb. onions, 2 lbs. potatoes, 1 bulb garlic, 2 lbs. tomatoes; choose 1 item from: okra, fennel, Swiss chard, beets. Pick your own: Flowers and herbs, 1 pt. cherry tomatoes, 3 qts. beans, 2 qts. soybeans, 1 pt. tomatillos, 5 hot peppers, ½ pt. blackberries

Farm: Glen Farm
Pickup: At farm, 98 Moyer Road, Perkasie
Sign up at:
Share Length: 24 weeks
Cost: Full share $780 ($32.50/week); split share $400 ($16.66/week)
Sample Peak-Season Share: Full share: 5 beets, 1 bunch carrots, 2 sweet onions, 2 Italian eggplants, 3½ lbs. red slicing tomatoes, 3½ lbs. heirloom tomatoes, 1 lb. sweet peppers, 10 ears sweet corn, 2 lbs. summer squash, 1 cantaloupe, 1 watermelon. Pick your own: Dill, cilantro, basil, flowers, 2 qts. string beans, 1 pt. strawberries, 1 qt. cherry tomatoes

Farm: Charlestown Cooperative Farm
Pickup: At farm, 2565 Charlestown Road, Phoenixville
Sign up at:
Share Length: 25 weeks
Cost: Full share $725 ($29/week); double share $1,300 ($52/week)
Sample Peak-Season Share: Full share: 1 head lettuce, 2½ lbs. zucchini, 1 squash, 4 lbs. cucumbers, 1 Asian cucumber, 1 European cucumber, 2 watermelons, 1 muskmelon, 1 lb. potatoes, 5 beets, 8-10 leaves chard, 1 bunch scallions, 18 ears corn, 1 pepper, 7 lbs. tomatoes. Pick your own: Beans, tomatillos, cherries, 1 qt. paste tomatoes, 1 pt. raspberries, flowers and herbs

Farm: Greensgrow Farms
Pickup: At farm, 2501 East Cumberland Street
Sign up at:
Share Length: 24-26 weeks
Cost: Full share $800/ 26 weeks ($30.77/week), $750/24 weeks ($31.25/week); biweekly $420/13 weeks ($16.15/week)
Sample Peak-Season Share: Full share: Nectarines, Brandywine tomatoes, colored peppers, cucumbers, dairy option (choice of: 1 dozen free-range eggs, 2 Pequea Valley yogurts, Amish-style butter, ½ gal. hormone-free milk), fresh ricotta from Mancuso’s Cheese Shop, hormone- and antibiotic-free ground beef (vegetarian option: watermelon and white potatoes)

Farm: Honey Brook Organic Farm
Pickup: At farm, 260 Wargo Road, Pennington, and multiple sites in PA and NJ
Sign up at:
Share Length: 24 weeks
Cost: Family share (farm pickup) $604 ($25.17/week); individual share (farm pickup) $358 ($14.92/week); delivered share $600 ($25/week)
Sample Peak-Season Share: Family share: ­Garlic, peppers, summer squash, melon, watermelon, slicing and heirloom tomatoes, grape tomatoes, chard, eggplant, plus choice of cabbage, scallions, onions and beets, or cilantro, basil and parsley. Pick your own: Flowers and ornamental grasses, basil, raspberries, blackberries, okra

Farm: Kimberton CSA
Pick-up: At farm, 415 West Seven Stars Road, Phoenixville
Sign up at:
Share Length: 28 weeks
Cost: $780 ($27.86/week)
Sample farm for more information: Contact farm for more information.

Farm: Lancaster Farm Fresh
Pickup: At multiple sites in Philadelphia and Lancaster
Sign up at:
Share Length: 22 weeks
Cost: Full share (weekly) $575 ($26.14/week); split share (biweekly) $300 ($13.64/week)
Sample Peak-Season Share: Full share: 1 watermelon, 5 lbs. potatoes, 1 pt. grape tomatoes, 2 cubanelle peppers, 3 green bell peppers, 2 large candy onions, 3 yellow squash, 2 cucumbers, 4 heirloom tomatoes

Maysie’s Farm Conservation Center
Pickup: At farm, 15 St. Andrew’s Lane, Glenmoore, or at Jenkin’s Arboretum, 631 Berwyn Baptist Road, Devon
Sign up at:
Share Length: 26 weeks
Cost: Family share $600 ($23.08/week); large family share $1,000 ($38.46/week)
Sample Peak-Season Share: Family share: 1 head lettuce, 1 head cabbage or bok choy, red and white onions, turnips, beets, zucchini and cucumbers (as needed), 1 pepper, 1 eggplant, 14-18 tomatoes, mesclun mix, arugula, basil, kale/­collards/Swiss chard (as needed), 6 large potatoes. Pick your own: Cilantro, parsley, basil, flowers, beans, cherry tomatoes, black berries.

Farm: North Star Orchard
Pickup: At farm, 3226 Limestone Road, Cochranville, or at sites in West Chester, Phoenixville, West Grove and Eagle
Sign up at:
Share Length: 12 weeks
Cost: Fruit share $225 ($18.75/week)
Sample Peak-Season Sale: Yellow peaches, white peaches, plums, European pears, Asian pears, apples

Farm: Pennypack Farm Education Center
Pickup: At farm, 683 Mann Road, Horsham
Sign up at:
Share Length: 26 weeks
Cost: Large share $635 ($24.42/week); small share $425 ($16.35/week)
Sample Peak-Season Share: Large share: Onions, beets, carrots, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, squash, cucumbers, melons, lettuce, cilantro, basil. Pick your own: Cherry tomatoes, beans, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries

Farm: Red Earth Farm
Pickup: At farm, 1025 Red Dale Road, Orwigsburg, or at 18 sites in Philadelphia, Berks and Lehigh counties
Sign up at:
Share Length: 23 weeks
Cost: Full share $540 ($23.48/week); partial share $385 ($16.74/week)
Sample Peak-Season Sale: Full share: Tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, variety of cooking greens (kale, Swiss chard), Asian greens, beets,
carrots, 2 colors of lettuce, zucchini, pattypan squash, herbs

Farm: Red Oak Ranch
Pickup: At farm, 3315 Dutch Mill Road, Newfield, NJ, or Philadelphia delivery service
Sign up at:
Share Length: 16 weeks
Cost: Mini share $190 ($11.88/week); small share $295 ($18.43/week); large share $495 ($30.94/week)
Sample Peak-Season Share: Green beans, onions, tomatoes, corn, potatoes

Farm: Seasons’ Harvest Farms
Pickup: At multiple sites in Doylestown, the Lehigh Valley and Berks County
Sign up at:
Share Length: 24 weeks
Cost: Full share $525 ($21.88/week); half share $360 ($15/week)
Sample Peak-Season Share: Full share: 1 lb. green beans, 1 qt. slicing tomatoes, 2 pts. cherry tomatoes, 2 or 3 cucumbers, 1 pt. jalapeños, 2 or 3 eggplants, 5 Walla Walla onions, 4 bell peppers, 1 bunch Swiss chard, 1 bunch purple basil

Farm: Vollmecke Orchards
Pickup: At farm, 155 Cedar Knoll Road, West Brandywine Township, and 5 other PA locations
Sign up at:
Share Length: 23 weeks
Cost: $650, with discounted “working” shares available ($28.26/week)
Sample Peak-Season Share: Sweet corn, onions, carrots, beets, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, red tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, green peppers, assorted hot peppers, cantaloupe, watermelon, peaches